Friday, July 22, 2011

Interweaving the Lord's Prayer with the reality of who we are:

Rod Swenson is a friend who went to my church several years ago. Since 1996, he and his wife have lived in China teaching children English. Rod is an artist and a poet. You might have seen Rod’s earlier paintings of Bob the dog. He still paints. In the past we saw and listened to each other at poetry readings in homes. Rod wrote this poem a long time ago intertwining the Lord’s Prayer and redemptive themes with all of the joys and sorrows of life. His boss Frank had just died.

I just recently had the chance to ask if I could post his poem. Rod was very gracious to allow me to publish it.

This is For Frank a Man of Few Words

By Rod Swenson

This is for the life everlasting and the word not spoken

This is for my father whose name was BUD

This is for the mystery of faith and the hand of GOD

This is for THOMAS who had to put his finger in the hole

This is for the body and blood of CHRIST the resurrection

       and the life

This is for the complicated heart of GOD and the nine volcanos

       of the Pacific rim

This is for the earthquake theory of time

This is for the tears on the face of love

This is for my bad record; sometimes it’s impossible to

       start again

This is for Frank two days into death and my father gone for

       sixteen years

This is for the tears you cried and a hand to hold

This is for the grace of GOD that takes away the sins of

       the world

This is for the list and the end of money

This is for FRANK and the LORD JESUS CHRIST

This is for the life of the body and the parting of ways

This is for the women who love us

Our FATHER who art in heaven

This is for FRANK

Hallowed be thy name

This is for the mind that multiplies difficulties and the

       spirit of truth that runs down the drain

Thy Kingdom come

        Put one hand over my eyes

        Take me by the hand

        I’m a man of unclean lips

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

This is for the man of sorrows, the more abundant life and

       the spirit of truth that enters by the smallest door

      and never returns empty handed

This is for the fingers that play and a heart to keep time

       Put your hand over my eyes

Give us this day our daily bread

This is for the face of love

       The tears you cried

       The hands that kneaded the bread

       The sweat

       The anxiety

       The miserable pain in your back

       The turning away and the patience to wait

This is for Mozart and the long highway home

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

This is for the hand that opened the door

       The spirit that moved the hand

       The embrace that has no name

       The word not spoken

       Your finger that wrote in the dust

       The heart’s confusion and the hand of the living GOD

This is for the spirit of truth and the major and minor

       Diatonic scales

This is for John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk

This is for form

       Open our hearts

This is for the ones we won’t name

       One stiff leg

       And forty thousand bottles of beer

This is for the impossible understaking and the ones who made

       It work

This is for Vincent Van Gogh, Roberto Andreas and Paula Salemme

This is for the six-story drop and the hand of GOD

He would not suffer a bone to be broken

This is for the terror and the long years of silence

      The doors we closed and the ones we left behind

      The willingness to try and the mangos of summer

Have mercy on thy people LORD

This is for the new Jerusalem and the long trumpet lines

       Of Miles Davis

This is for the body and blood of CHRIST that takes away

       The sins of the world

This is for the willingness to suffer

This is for the oil of joy

This is for the terrible confusion of the moment

      and the end of money

This is for Danny Kalb and Albert and Great America

       Not the amusement park but the continent that divides us

This is for the distance between us

This is for the voice

      The present moment

      The grey light of dawn

       Rain in a drought year

       and the everlasting life

This is for the end of hope and the grace of GOD

Our Father who art in heaven

This is for someone moving in the kitchen

This is for Frank eighty years old and two days dead

This is for the need to fix things that can never be fixed

      The thin whistle of fear

      The shallow persistent cough

      The pneumonia, the ventilator

      The huge plastic tube

      The aluminum wings

      The metal detector

      The engine roar

      The musak

      and the iron cold of winter

This is for the end of life

      The mine

      The test hole

       The string that broke

       The year it all went bad

       The tobacco cigarette and the dog you threw in the hole

This is for the American economy and the arms race

       The B2 bomber and the trident submarine

This is for the walls between us and the hand that knocks on

      the door

This is for the time left and the angry money of a place to go

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

For THINE is the kingdom

      and the power

     and the glory forever.


Dave Moody said...

ok- I LIKE that! Thanks Vi. I'm copying and keeping it. Might even hang it in my office. Next to John Donne.

see you in MN?
grace & peace,

Viola Larson said...

I'm glad you like it. I hope you copied it after I reformatted it. I forgot to indent the sentences that were indented. And while doing that discovered I left out a couple of lines, including the very important, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil"

Yes you will see me and Brad in MN just a few days before our fiftieth wedding anniversary.